Sunday, 12 February 2012
Gunnel Wåhlstrand at Parasol Unit, London
In the same way, there is often a small element in the painting itself which undermines the almost chilly perfection of the scene. For example, in the painting above, all the furniture fits like a jigsaw and the figures are unnaturally poised. All is still -- apart from the figure reflected in the picture on the right-hand side, who is perhaps waving at someone out of the window. It's an almost hidden point of freedom within the stifling interior.
There was another painting, of a library, an astonishingly complex scene full of books and shelves. Students bent over their books and I noticed that some of these figures were blurred, introducing a disturbing note into the stillness. I guess that they must have been blurred in the original photo on which the painting was based and so have been faithfully blurred in the reproduction. But the blurring foregrounds the fact that this is not a painting of 'reality' but of a photo, at a remove from reality. It's what I particularly like about certain photorealist art -- when the apparent 'reality' you're looking at is subverted and you're forced to question what it is you're being shown.
These beautiful paintings have really got under my skin.